New York became the sixth state to recognize interleague baseball today, joining Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa, as well as Washington D.C., in giving games between the National and American leagues the same legal recognition as traditional intraleague match-ups.
"It's a great day to be a baseball player in New York," said Mets third baseman David Wright.
Senator Mark Grisanti, a longtime opponent of interleague baseball, came over in support of the law at the last moment and cast the deciding vote.
"Who am I to say that a Mets-Yankees game should not be given the same standing as a game between the Mets and Nationals or Mets and Astros?" said Sen. Grisanti on the floor of the state senate. "In fact, maybe it should even have more standing. I mean, Mets-Astros? Jesus. It's hard to defend a Mets-Astros game as being superior to anything."
But while interleague proponents celebrated the landmark victory, those opposed to interleague baseball vowed to fight on.
"From the beginning of baseball, there were National League games and American League games. No mixing, except for the World Series and All-Star Game," said baseball commentator Bob Costas. "And that was great. But now we have all these interleague games all year long and what are we left with? Anarchy. From night to night I don't know who anyone is playing. Kids need to know that the two leagues are separated for a purpose."
As hard as it may seen to imagine now, before 1997 interleague games were illegal in all 50 states. Most back then only saw them as nothing more than exhibitions played in remote Florida and Arizona towns during the spring. But polling today of those 30-and-under shows that they can hardly remember a pre-interleague America — and by a large margin they don't want to return to when the leagues were completely split.
"It's the arc of history," said baseball historian George Will. "At first I fought against it, but what's the point? The younger generation wants it and interleague games are very popular. I support interleague baseball because I want to be on the right side of history."
Yet the battle will rage on. Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum says allowing interleague baseball means anything could be legal.
"What's to stop the Yankees from playing the Jets at hockey now?" said Santorum. "And can the Mets now decide they want to play a team of 8 year-olds? These are very serious and logical issues."